Genes and ethics

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 26 August 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:574
  1. Tony Smith, associate editor
  1. BMJ

    Cynics used to say that clinicians begin to take an interest in medical ethics only when they realise they are losing touch with technical advances in their own discipline. There may have been some truth in this assertion when so many ethical issues were philosophical rather than practical. In the 1990s, however, many practical questions need answers.

    The genetic testing of apparently healthy children is a case in point. It is now possible to test at any age for an ever lengthening list of genetic disorders as various as cystic fibrosis or Huntington's disease, the haemoglobinopathies, and some forms of dementia. Some tests are intended to allow reasonably certain identification of symptomless carriers of genes for recessive …

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